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Japan and American forces share goodwill at annual reception

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ryan Lackey
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Leaders from the 374th Airlift Wing attended the Japan and American Goodwill Association 2023 annual reception, which featured U.S. Lt. Gen. Ricky Rupp, U.S. Forces Japan and Fifth Air Force commander, and U.S. Brig. Gen. Jesse Friedel, Fifth AF deputy commander, as guest speakers in Tokyo, Japan, May 16.

The JAAGA organization is mainly comprised of retired Japan Air Self-Defense Force members and has the specific objective of promoting friendship, mutual understanding, and trust between JASDF and USFJ by engaging with and honoring distinguished performers from both nations.

“I’ve seen some very positive and impressive steps [from Japan] to strengthen alliances and cooperation,” Rupp said. “Japan is continually developing a posture of joint readiness alongside U.S. counterparts. I have a positive outlook for our alliance, so we will continue to shore-up our friendships to maintain a strong deterrence.”

Rupp and Friedel led the event with a speech on national defense in consideration of the current global environment and how the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation initiatives are helping keep the Indo-Pacific region peaceful.

“As we figure out our capabilities and sync our collective efforts, it’ll build a linked shield to put off our mutual adversaries,” Friedel said. “We don’t do this alone. We do this with joint exercises and training, to develop that multilateral capability alongside all our mutual allies, and together we will defend this nation and that of our friends in the Indo-Pacific.”

The speeches were followed by a question and answer session for attendees, as they asked for advice on how the JAAGA can help strengthen Japan’s defensive forces, inspire recruitment, and levy their prior service effectively.

“You may be retired, but your experience is invaluable,” Rupp said. “I want to lean on each of you to help prepare the latest generation of our militaries, and keep our friendship strong.”

Participation in JAAGA is a reinforcing part of the allied effort to ensure the continuation of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The partners and allies of the U.S. Air Force are force multipliers and are one of the greatest strategic resources available in the defense of U.S. and allied interests around the world.